We have the results for our first major tournament in this new Standard season in the SCG Standard Open, and while SCG Opens have proved to not be a perfect representation of how the new meta game is, it does give us some insight into what it might look like in the weeks leading up to the pro tour. You can find the deck lists, as well as their placing here. Now, let’s go over the top 8.
Golgari is top of the food chain once again. We have a blue splash for Hydroid Krasis in the mainboard, as well as Negates and Disdainful Strokes in the side. The real MVP of this deck, I believe, was Wildgrowth Walker. As we’ll see as we go over the top 32, and as is the norm for SCG Opens, aggro decks were a good portion of the top tables. Having four copies of a card that gains you three life anytime you resolve nine of the creatures you play in your deck can make a mono red player cry. A turn two Wildgrowth Walker into a turn three Jadelight Ranger usually spells death for burn.
Hydroid Krasis was a solid include, I’ve been very high on this card since it was spoiled, and already it’s proving to be a new player in Standard.
This is not the Bant deck I expected to see at the top tables of this event. Bant Nexus looked so appealing to me between getting Frilled Mystic, Growth Spiral, and Wilderness Reclamation all in the same set, but the grindy game paid off for Jonathan Hobbs.
We see that Hobbs included some Bant staples in Frilled Mystic and Teferi, but he’s also playing a full playset of Angel of Grace. This has much the same feel as Archangel Avacyn, being a five mana 5/5 Flash Flyer. Angel of Grace’s ETB ability may not be relevant as often as one might hope, but it will save you if you ever do get into that situation. It makes it so you can never lose from a giant combat step. Additionally, its second ability may be extremely relevant when you need more time to stabilize
Growth-Chamber Guardian is another include that doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. Playing with this card in Arena has shown me how big of a power house it can be. It forces interaction from your opponent by threatening to add a 4/4 body to the board every turn until you’re at four of them.
The rest of the deck is a strange collaboration of other decks from the previous Standard season. You have token elements in History of Benalia, March of the Multitudes, and Shalai, with control elements in Seal Away, Settle the Wreckage, and Teferi. It’s a weird healthy middle that Hobbs was able to find, and I’m excited to see if this deck turns out to be the real deal.
Azorius Aggro is a deck name that I never thought I would say.
What we have here, is good old fashioned Boros Aggro disguised as Azorius Aggro. It’s actually kind of simple, they just took out the four Heroic Reinforcements and put in the four Deputy of Detention, and that’s it. The blue splash is so light, that he’s even playing a single Island in the sideboard for when he brought in his blue sideboard cards. It’s simple, but it worked for him.
Orzhov got the sweeper of the block in Kaya’s Wrath, meaning Jeskai is officially dethroned as the control deck of choice. The removal in black has become too good to pass up, with how many aggressive decks will pop up in these early days of the meta, cards like Moment of Craving and Vraska’s Contempt are premier. Absorb is another player entering the battlefield that was a great addition to control’s counter magic selection.
Cowden decided on a single copy of Chromium, the Mutable, not so much as a win condition as it was a test drive to see if he’s playable now. The biggest issue with Chromium, is he dies to sweepers. Any, and all sweepers. It was a good call for this tournament, as not many decks showed up with sweepers, but his relevance should be shown swinging in and out of popularity.
Much like Affinity in Modern, some things are easy to prepare for. Once people start properly preparing for them, they will drop off of the radar until people begin to lower their guard. I think control as a whole will perform this balancing act with such good anti-control cards being around, such as Cindervines, Gruul Spellbreaker, and Rhythm of the Wilds.
This is the kind of list that I was hoping would be the face of Esper. A home for Mortify and Thought Erasure side by side beefy evasive creatures. A notable deck building choice I see is the exclusion of any one mana spells, save for two Duress in the side. The deck plays 11 shock lands, so it’s likely a choice for a less painful mana base.
Dovin, Grand Arbiter seems more of a grindy card than anything in this deck, ideally curving from Hero of Precinct One into him, followed by a minus on Dovin for three bodies and a Planeswalker on turn three, which seems very good. It mucks up the board very quickly and can turn from muck to pressure in the blink of an eye after resolving more top end cards like Seraph of the Scales and Lyra Dawnbringer.
It’s not often that a deck featuring white and black gets me excited, but this actually looks like something that I would be interesting in playing.
Izzet Drakes, Ol’ Reliable, pulling through for us once again. Glad to see this deck is still a top contender.
This build is reminiscent of the earlier builds of Drakes, with Niv-Mizzet tucked away in the sideboard and the playset of Arclight Phoenix now replaced with Pteramander. Pteramander seems fine, its a low cost threat that lands on turn one and has the evasion to get in for two or three points of damage, and if it doesn’t get answered, it threatens to become a monstrous 5/5. Being able to dodge Lava Coil is going to be the deciding factor for many creatures in this upcoming meta, as good removal will be key to keeping the new powerful creature decks in check.
Our second Esper Control deck in the Top 8, with a bit different card selection. We see Davis excluded every copy of Syncopate and added his playset of Thought Erasure, and seems to have heavily favored removal spells over counter magic in general. He’s still playing the playset of Absorb and a few Negates, but other than those swaps, the two control lists appear to be very similar.
And in our final Top 8 slot, we have our second Sultai Midrange list.
Again, this is just Golgari Midrange from last season, with a blue splash for Hydroid Krasis. Corrigan also decided to play single Hostage Taker in the main to go alongside the extra removal spells he’s packing. If one things figured out, it’s that three is the correct number of Hydroid Krasis to include in your deck.
By looking at the rest of the Top 32, we see that Sultai Midrange and Mono Red were the two largest contenders., both holding 16%+ of their metagame share. The interesting thing is, passed that, most other decks average out to around 5% of the meta, meaning this was an extremely diverse tournament in terms of meta share by decks.
This tournament has shown that creatures are no laughing matter in standard. We have solid interaction in Thought Erasure and Mortify to keep creature and Nexus decks in check, which allows Aggro to do better, which in turn makes midrange better, which in turn makes control better. I think this upcoming Standard season is set to be a spectacular one, and I look forward to seeing how it evolves.